Impressive accessibility and exceptional staff
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Walking Aid
This review is specifically about a special event I attended at St Paul's Cathedral. In December I attended a performance of Messiah written by George Frederic Handel. St Paul's Cathedral, with its iconic dome, is one of the most famous buildings in the world. It's been the venue for many special occassions, including Prince Charles and Diana's marriage. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and was completed in 1710. For a historic building it has excellent access.
Transport & Parking
There area number of accessible buses that stop outside or very close to St Paul's. The closest tube station is St Paul's, but it is not step free. The nearest step free tube stations are Blackfriars, this will involve going up Ludgate Hill, and Farringdon, which if you go via Smithfield Market, you can have a flat route.
The main entrance is at the cathedral's West End, where there are 24 steps with a handrail to get to the entrance. The step free entrance is in the south churchyard. It's signposted but the entrance is not obvious. If you are standing facing the main entrance, the step free entrance is on the right hand side. If you are coming from the Millennium Bridge, when you approach St Paul's, you are directly facing the south side where the step free entrance is. At the step free entrance staff took me up in a lift to the cathedral floor. I had step free access to my seat. At the end of the performance I made my way back to the lift to exit. I noticed that some wheelchair users were located in the back row of the front block of seating.
I didn't use them on this occassion but I have done previously. The accessible toilets are in the crypt and are accessible by the lift. They are a cubicle located inside the ladies or gents toilets. They clean and have grab rails.
Staff were exceptional. Prior to visiting I emailed St Pauls regarding using the accessible entrance for the event. I had a prompt and very postive email exchange with Natasha Johnson, who made the arrangements for me to use the lift and was proactive in suggesting reserving a seat for me (the event was ticketed but with no reserve seating). When I arrived I was welcomed by Dawn at the accessible entrance and escorted in the lift to the main floor of the cathedral. I was then accompanied by another member of staff to my seat, sorry I can't remember their name. They had reserved me seats in the front row of the second block from the front, with a marvellous view. When we arrived there was someone else sitting in the seats that had been reserved for me. The member of staff spoke to the person sitting there and asked them to move, which they did. When they stood up I could see that there were notices on both chairs saying they were reserved. At the end of the performance I made my way to the lift and Dawn escorted me down to the exit.
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I can not thank the helpful and friendly St Paul's staff enough for making this such a special evening for me. The performance of the Messiah was outstanding and in such an impressive setting. This was a free, pre-bookable, sold out event. It's held annually. Thanks to the staff's assistance they took all the stress out of attending for me and I could just enjoy it instead of worrying about queuing up or managing the stairs. The seats that were reserved for us made me feel like royality. Thank you, thank you, thank you, St Paul's Cathedral shows that accessibility in historic buildings is possible.